A federal judge sentenced former President Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro on Thursday to four months in prison for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 House select committee, Politico reports. “They had a job to do. And you made it harder. It’s really that simple," U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said. “You are not a victim. You are not the object of a political prosecution." The sentence followed nearly two years of wrestling with questions about executive privilege — and whether Navarro’s defiance could be considered criminal if he thought that Trump had wanted him to keep a conversations confidential. If Mehta rejects Navarro's bid to stay free while appealing his conviction, Navarro would be the first Trump White House aide to go to prison. Navarro is the second Trump ally convicted of contempt of Congress charges for refusing to provide documents or testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, after Steve Bannon's sentence in 2022.
Navarro’s trouble began in February 2022, when he received an email request to accept a subpoena from the committee. Navarro almost instantly replied that he could not cooperate due to “executive privilege,” a claim that his conversations about the 2020 election with Trump were confidential and that he could not be legally compelled to discuss them. The committee warned him that his claim of privilege was invalid, but Navarro rejected their arguments, refusing to appear. The House held Navarro in contempt in April 2022, and the Justice Department charged him weeks later. Navarro’s trial, like Bannon’s, centered around the extent of executive privilege and immunity, which they said gives them an excuse to refuse subpoenas. Prosecutors rejected this interpretation, saying any deliberate refusal to ignore a congressional subpoena is a crime.